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Happy St. Patty’s Day!

by | Mar 15, 2024 | Uncategorized

Top O’ the Mornin to Ya!  With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, I thought I would table divorce stuff for another week and share a little bit about what the day means to me and why.   


You might figure that with a name like Barney, I have some Irish roots.  This is indeed true.  My great Grandfather, Herbert Aloysius Connaughton, migrated from England to the United States.  His  grandparents, my great, great, great grandparents, moved from Ireland to England.  I have found Herbert in the Ellis Island immigrant logs in New York, where he entered the Country back in 1910.  One of the four provinces in Ireland is Connaught and there are pages and pages of Connaughton’s in the phone books there.  The last time I went to Ireland I fueled my car at a Connaughton gas station.  I get the opportunity to head back to Ireland this upcoming week with my family to enjoy it once again.


So, what does St. Patty’s Day mean to me?  I grew up with it always being a big to-do.  My dad would cook up a big pot of corned beef and the whole family (all 9 of us)  would sit down for a big feast of corned beef, cabbage, carrots, potatoes and soda bread.  In my second year of law school, back in 1990,  I invited some friends over to my very own first St. Patty’s Day extravaganza which included my first attempt at cooking up my own pot of corned beef.  If you are not familiar with how to cook corned beef, it gets put into a big pot of water with some pepper corns and other herbs and gets stewed for a good part of the day.  That very first year of celebration, fun was had by all.  The next morning word started trickling in from my guests that the meal had caused them stomach issues.  It did not take too long to determine that the stomach issues arose because I had failed to trim the fat from the beef before putting it into the pot to cook.  Rookie mistake.  Fortunately for me, my friends were both forgiving and adventurous and gave me a second chance the following year.  


The tradition continues over 30 years later.  I have refined my stewing skills and can be counted on for putting out a pretty delicious corned beef.  I have a big pot so I can accommodate what stragglers come through the door each year.  St. Patty’s is a day of good food, good friends, lively music, and perhaps a pint or two of Guinness.   


St. Patrick’s Day has also been the source of a  special connection I have held with my Father, who also is a Barney.  Every St. Patrick’s Day morning (up until a few years ago when he passed away) I would get up early, sharpen my knife, trim the fat from the corned beef, and put it into the pot to cook.  I would then give my Father a call.  He would always answer with a “Top O’ the Mornin” and we would check in on the progress of our respective pots of corned beef.  Without fail my Dad would brag that his pot was already boiling and moisture was trickling down his kitchen window.  Those moments with him on the phone are on my short list of the most cherished times experienced in my life. 


For me, St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of the pride I have in my roots that trace back to Ireland.  It is a reminder of a wonderful connection I held with my Father.  When I really think about what makes it so special, it is just a simple evening shared with family and friends, enjoying a good meal, good drink, good tunes, laughter and togetherness.  How can you ask for anything more than that?